Articles / Best Practices for MSPs Using Microsoft Azure

Best Practices for MSPs Using Microsoft Azure


Published: 2024-06-27

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Managed Service Providers (MSPs) need strong platforms to build, manage and deliver applications without worrying too much about the underlying infrastructure. This is where Microsoft Azure steps in. Azure offers a wide range of services and tools to help you scale and operate more economically.   

But to achieve its full potential, MSPs need to be strategic and follow best practices that address the unique needs of the cloud of nowadays. That’s why we have gathered the best practices to help you optimise your costs, enhance security, and improve performance.  

We'll provide you with the practices you need to be successful, whether you're an experienced Azure professional or you're just starting out on your cloud journey. 

Let’s begin!  


Why should you follow Azure development best practices? 

A recent study found that 47% of cloud storage turnover is attributed to data and usage fees (including API calls, operations, egress and recovery), the same as the results of last year's survey. Moreover, the number of respondents whose organisations are cloud-first has risen to 42% by 2024.

This emphasises the growing dependence on cloud services and the extreme importance of managing costs effectively. Without a solid foundation, you are at risk of losing control of your Azure environment, which can lead to unexpected costs, security vulnerabilities and inefficiencies. 

Following Azure development best practices is key to delivering the best service to your customers.  Furthermore, you will be able to reduce the risks of uncontrolled spending, improve security and optimise performance.

Let's take a look at the main list of benefits when you follow Azure development best practices:  

1. Improve security: Protect against cyberthreats, data breaches and compliance breaches while maintaining trust between stakeholders in their operations. It is essential that robust measures are in place, as security is a top priority and concern for customers using the public cloud 

2. Enhance performance: Improve user satisfaction and productivity by optimising the allocation of your resources, improving response times and ensuring the reliability of your operations. 

3. Simplify scalability: Whether you scale horizontally by adding more instances, or vertically by increasing the resources within instances, this flexibility helps you grow without compromising performance or adding unnecessary costs. 

4. Cost efficiency: Streamline resources, monitor usage and allocate budgets efficiently. Helping businesses to maximise ROI while minimising the amount spent on unused or under-utilised resources. 

Managed Billing Manager

Implementing Azure development best practices goes beyond performance and security optimisation. It's integral to keeping cloud costs under control. Without a strategic approach, costs can escalate quickly.

Marc Jongma, Managed Billing Manager at CloudBilling


What are the main challenges in Azure? 

As we have already mentioned earlier, moving to the cloud with Microsoft Azure offers numerous benefits, including reduced IT costs and improved business resilience. But like any major change, it brings its own challenges.  

Let’s now take a look at the main challenges:  


A common problem organisations have with cloud migration is poor planning. Often the process is assumed to be simple and uncomplicated, but successful migration requires careful planning. 

For a smooth migration to Azure, an initial plan should include: 

1. Goals: Clearly define what will be moved to the cloud and the expected benefits. 
2. Deadlines: Recognise that the migration won't be done overnight and communicate the timetable to all stakeholders to ensure their support. 
3. Allocation of resources: Ensure the in-house team balances their regular tasks with the migration efforts to avoid delays. 
4. Stakeholder buy-in: Once the plan has been prepared, involve all stakeholders to identify gaps and effectively manage expectations. 

Understanding the Azure platform

A lack of knowledge about the platform can often lead to unrealistic expectations, a lack of visible benefits, or even increased costs. Hiring external experts with experience in Azure migrations can prevent these problems, as they can deal with unusual issues that may happen. 

Cost management 

Pricing for Azure services and components may vary, and MSPs might experience unanticipated costs once they migrate. Furthermore, the pay-per-use pricing model in Azure requires a shift in mindset and requires your careful attention into planning so you can avoid unnecessary costs. 

MSPs must adapt to this new paradigm by implementing proactive strategies. Let's look at the key ones: 

  • Planning and monitoring: Careful planning of virtual machines, storage, and network usage is crucial. Regular monitoring will help you identify and adjust resources based on actual needs, preventing unnecessary expenses. 
  • Policy implementation: Clear usage policies and resource allocation guidelines ensure that resources are used efficiently. Set alerts for budget thresholds to prevent overspending. 
  • Automation tools: Utilising automated cost management tools simplifies tracking and optimising expenses. Using these tools will provide you with insights into usage patterns and help streamline billing processes. 

Security concerns 

Security concerns, especially regarding sensitive data, often delay the migration process to the cloud. Microsoft's Azure Information Protection process addresses this issue by the following: 

1. Classifying data with security rules 
2. Labelling data with classifications 
3. Protecting data according to labels 
4. Monitoring access and network activity 
5. Responding to suspicious activity 

Ongoing administration 

Once the migration is complete, ongoing management of the cloud environment is key. Azure offers various management tools, but these must be used effectively. 

Training internal staff or hiring specialists for day-to-day management ensures that Azure delivers the expected benefits and will ultimately help your business plan for future needs. 

Now that you are aware of the challenges we can finally move on with the best practices. Let’s dive in!


Best practices for Microsoft Azure that you should follow     

Implementing the following guidelines will help you maximise the benefits of using Azure Microsoft in incredible ways. Here are the best practices:    

1. Implement a well-architected framework

First things first, implementing a well-architected framework is essential to building quality cloud solutions. The Azure Well-Architected Framework focuses on four main pillars: 
  • Reliability: Ensure that your system can recover from failures and continue its operations. 
  • Security: Protect your data and applications with robust security controls. 
  • Cost optimisation: Make efficient use of resources while optimising your costs. 
  • Operational performance: Effectively manage and monitor your applications by simplifying your operations. 

2. Use Azure Policy and RBAC 

Azure Policy helps you improve organisational standards and assess compliance at scale. You can use it to create, assign, and manage the policies that control the creation and configuration of resources. 

RBAC you can assign specific privileges to users, groups, and applications. This reduces the risk of unauthorised access while improving security. 

3.  Use Azure cost management 

Using Azure Cost Management and Invoicing to optimise costs is fundamental to avoiding unexpected expenses and ensuring cost efficiencies. Here's how you can manage your costs more efficiently: 

1. Track and analyse your cloud spend to understand where your money is going. 
2. Set budgets and alerts to proactively monitor and control your usage. 
3. Identify and optimise under-utilised resources using Azure cost management tools. 
4. Review cost reports regularly and adjust your resource allocation to maximise efficiency and minimise costs over time. 

4. Implement security best practices

As mentioned earlier, security is a top priority for Azure environment management. Here are some key practices to keep in mind: 

  •  Enable Azure Security Center to continuously monitor the security status of your resources and identify potential vulnerabilities.

  • Use Azure Firewall or Network Security Groups (NSGs) to effectively manage and secure network traffic.

  • Maintain regular updates and patches for virtual machines and other resources to protect against known vulnerabilities.  

  • Implement strong security measures. You can mitigate risk, protect sensitive data, and comply with regulatory standards. 

5. Update your architecture regularly 

Review and update your architecture regularly to take advantage of new services and capabilities. Attend Azure training, webinars, and conferences to stay on top of the latest developments and trends. 

6. Create a disaster recovery plan

Keep your business running by creating a complete backup and disaster recovery plan. Azure Backup and Azure Site Recovery can help: 

  • Protect your data with regular backups. 

  • Replicate your workloads to a secondary region. 

  • Automate recovery processes to minimise downtime. 

7. Engage with Azure experts  

Engage with Azure experts and the community for ongoing support and knowledge sharing. Join Azure forums, attend user group meetings, and participate in community events to connect with other professionals and learn from their experiences. 

8. Automating your Azure Microsoft billing processes  

The challenges associated with managing your overall spend can be significantly reduced by automating your billing processes. It provides a more streamlined billing process while ensuring financial transparency and efficiency in your Azure use.  

As well as saving time, this approach increases accuracy and control over cloud spending, ultimately supporting better financial planning and resource allocation.  

The list of benefits goes on. In the next section, we will present you an ideal solution to automate your Azure Microsoft billing processes. 


Automate your Azure Microsoft billing processes with CloudBilling  

Optimising Azure costs requires constant monitoring and automation for transparency and efficiency, and CloudBilling is an ideal tool for this. 

At CloudBilling, we understand the needs of MSPs who manage Azure environments for customers. CloudBilling simplifies operations and adds value by providing: 

  • Easy integration: Connects seamlessly with your existing software for automated billing and cost management. 
  • Multi-cloud support: Manage costs in multiple public clouds from a single interface. 
  • Advanced billing information: Offers detailed billing data to identify optimisation opportunities. 
  • Customisable solutions: Adapts to the specific needs of your business with flexible features. 

Our platform offers everything you need to take complete control of all your costs while saving your precious time.

Are you ready to leave behind the hassle of your manual billing process? Book a demo today and start optimising your Azure costs and see the difference for yourself.  

  Get a Demo   

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